The year of The Donald

how-much-donald-trump-makes-in-speaking-fees-compared-to-everyone-elseThis has been the year of Donald Trump. There is no denying this, and those commentators who expected his “campaign” would implode within a few weeks – this columnist included – were spectacularly wrong. The only time he has fallen behind in the polls it was to a more ridiculously unfit candidate: Ben Carson. Trump has, at least, run a business empire. Through skill and hard work he inherited his father’s business and led it to bankruptcy time after time. Carson has run nothing of any size. 

Though he has only gathered the support of a small number – many of whom seem to be either not Republican or unlikely to vote – in the fractured and diverse field of candidates it has proved enough for a sustained plurality. As the field thins, it still seems likely that his campaign will fade, but it no longer seems likely that he will pull out and anoint another candidate before the first votes are cast in Iowa. This was what Ted Cruz was hoping. But Cruz has gained enough on Trump – some polls have him ten points ahead in Iowa – that Trump has started to feel peeved, and has begun some despicable attacks on Cruz. 

This columnist carries no candle for Cruz, and will certainly not be endorsing him in the primaries, but he deserves to be treated decently. Cruz tells us he is a Baptist. Common Sense understands that he has been a regular churchgoer for many years. But Trump has been saying “not a lot of evangelicals come out of Cuba in all fairness it’s true”. Cruz was born in Canada, of Cuban-American parents. Trump is claiming to be an evangelical, though seems to have little record of religious involvement. Trump has also been pandering to the Iowa ethanol interest, while attacking Cruz for not supporting the ethanol welfare program, and hinting it is because Cruz gets donations from the oil industry. 

Iowa and New Hampshire will winnow the field, probably to four serious candidates. Trump and Cruz are both likely to be among the four. On the more establishment side the field is likely to include Marco Rubio along with a governor. Chris Christie has earned himself a second look by hard campaigning in New Hampshire and the endorsement of the Manchester Union Leader. He seems in a better position than either John Kasich or Jeb Bush. 

This columnist finds it difficult to believe that either Trump or Christie has the wider support to remain competitive in a narrower field. This suggests that as the campaign moves past Super Tuesday the only candidates remaining will be first term senators of Cuban-American descent. 

There are other possibilities. John Kasich could make a breakthrough in New Hampshire, and a second look at his campaign would reveal a serious and capable contender: arguably one of the most experienced candidates to seek the presidency in generations and someone rated by Newt Gingrich as one of the most influential conservative thinkers of recent decades. 

Marco Rubio is the only candidate who is seriously competitive in all of the first four states: Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina and Nevada. No Republican has ever swept all four, and such a result would end the campaign in his favor very quickly. This columnist would still bet on four candidate going into super Tuesday and two coming out. 

qlQuentin Langley is a Senior Lecturer in Marketing at the University of Bedfordshire Business School as well as a freelance columnist published in the UK and all parts of the US. He blogs on social media and crisis communications at brandjacknews.com

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